Monday, September 22, 2008

Instant Classic

I am of the opinion that, before last night, two of baseball's best speeches took place in Yankee Stadium. Who would be dumb enough to argue that Lou Gehrig's speech - on July 4, 1939 - isn't the best speech ever? It might be one of the best speeches in American history, ranking up there with the Gettysburg Address. The simple thing that makes Gehrig's speech so amazing is that he didn't write anything. In fact, until Joe McCarthy urged him to do so, he had no intention of speaking at all.


Then came Babe Ruth's simple, eloquent words in 1947. Speaking with a raspy voice, and the likely knowledge that he had very little time left in this world (he would die in August, 1948), Ruth addressed the crowd in a brief speech that highlighted how badly his voice sounded, and how kids need to be lovingly worked into the game of baseball. Then he spoke some of my favorite words:
The only real game, I think, in the world is baseball.
It is the National Pastime.

That brings me to last night. Derek Jeter got the final word in the old House. He spoke briefly, unrehearsed, and beautifully. He immediately joined Gehrig, Ruth, and Mickey Mantly (on his "day" - June 8, 1969) in Yankees lore (and baseball lore) for legendary speeches.

There are a few things about the New York Yankees that will never change. That's pride, that's tradition, and most of all, we have the greatest fans in the world.
That's why he's the captain of the Yankees (and he doesn't have to wear a "C" on his jersey to prove it). And that's why all the Yankee-haters can, um, go away.

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